|The Marker for the London Loop-|
Now as I sit here in my London flat I wonder, are there any long distance paths around London? There is of course the Thames Path, but that only traipses in thru London. It starts (or finishes) in the hilly Cotswolds (where there is another long distance path, the Cotswold Way). Is there one that can be tackled easily in weekends if need be, and utilises London's already awesome transport system? Why yes-- the London Loop!
Dubbed 'The M25 for Walkers'. this trail is 140 miles long and pretty much circles around London. The joy of it is that the path really takes advantage of the green spots in London. Yes, you will go thru residential areas, but most paths do that... and in this manner the trail can be broken up into manageable chunks. In fact, there is only 1 section that has a start/end point outside the 6 zones of the London Transport System....
Grab you oyster card... Lets Go!
The book we will be using on this fun adventure to guide is 'The London Loop' by David Sharp. You can pick it up online, at your favorite bookstore, or if you are still unsure, rent it from your library!
Section 7: Kingston to Donkey WoodWe arrived at Kingston station about 20 minutes after leaving Waterloo Station. There was a trail marker right outside the station indicating where we were to head to. Now I should mention there were spots on the trail where it was NOT entirely obvious where to go. If you look at our GPS map it is quite obvious where these points are. I would never suggest walking a path going solely on signage. Use a book, plot your route on a map/GPS... never rely on one source!
I will only touch on some of the aspects of this section of path.
|The deer didn't seem to mind us....|
Bushy park is full of lovely grassland, ponds, wooded areas, and gardens. In fact, I could not get over the colors bursting from some of the flowers in the park, particularly in the Woodland Gardens. Azaleas and rhododendrons from soft white to bold pink were surrounded at their feet by small carpets of bluebells. Top it off with a quaint cottage and you half expect Snow White to pop out from around a tree.
|Shot Tower in Crane Park|
Crane ParkCrane Park logically follows the Crane River. There are numerous paths to take here, but if you follow the river you can't go wrong. The highlight of this section was the Shot Tower, which back in the 16th Century was part of a gunpowder mill. Its function? Men would drop molten lead into a vat of water to make shot... seems a bit extreme? Nowadays it is used as a Nature Center.
Hounslow HeathAfter another road diversion (there is a pub there, stop if you want a pint or food!), you are back on green at Hounslow Heath. And what green it is! It seems a bit untamed and wild, a contrast from the nicely designed Bushy Park. However, that is one of its best attributes. As far back as the Norman Times Hounslow Heath has been in the record books. It has had many uses: hunting ground, prime location for highwaymen and robbers, agriculture, and even a dump. Luckily most of its former functions (sadly except the last) have disappeared, leaving a lovely nature reserve full of paths for walker, cyclists, and horses.
According to the book, the Crown and Sceptre Pub was shortly after Hounslow Heath on Staines Road. However, much to our stomach's dismay, the pub was boarded up. With not much farther to go, we trudged thru Donkey Wood and then shortly came face to face with Heathrow Airport. A quick walk down the A30 (on pavement of course) brought us to Hatton Cross Tube station.
I hope I have persuaded a few of you to pick up a book on the London Loop or check the website and go out and walk a section of it. Everyone's perception of a trail is different, so go out there and make your own memories :)
GPS Mapped Route
View London Loop: Kingston to Donkey Wood in a larger map